It’s been a while since my last update since most of April and May left me with very little time for blogging. I just wanted to do a quick catch up on what I’ve been reading and what I plan to read in the coming month.
What I’ve Read
Almost 100% of the reading I’ve done in the past two months have been done via audiobook. Bless them for enabling me to finish all these novels while I completed my chores or during my morning commute, I would have fell into a book slump without them. I know at the beginning of the year I said I would cancel my Scribd account, but since I read so much via audio now, the set up is working great for me.
These aren’t even in chronological reading order because I am a Mess.
- Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★☆
This novel is best enjoyed via audiobook, sorry I don’t make the rules. TJR has a way of making her characters feel so raw and real, if I didn’t know any better I would have been searching for the discography of Daisy Jones & The Six after completing this novel. Epistolary novels don’t always work for me (see: Illuminae), because I sometimes find it hard to connect to the story. 100% not the case here, and I loved how utterly flawed everyone was allowed to be. To tell the truth, I didn’t like most of them, but they sure captured my imagination.
- The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang ★★★★★
HELLO IS ANYONE SURPRISED I AM COMPLETE TRASH FOR THIS BOOK. NO? OK.
Ahem. With complete objectivity, this book was a stunning follow-up to The Poppy War. It’s more introspective, it deals with PTSD, it brings in all of the threads that complicates and muddies the war Rin is waging on Nikara and with herself. The ending left me literally reeling and screaming in random DMs for weeks. I still have not completely stopped and I fear I will never be coherent again. Give me book three or give me death.
- Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey ★★★★☆
I finished this book about two hours ago and edited the post to include it. Although it contained the familiar tropes like a magical school, a jaded private detective, a dark prophecy, a hidden world of mages, a murder mystery – Magic for Liars combined them in a way that kept the plot fresh and engaging. Imagine if Aunt Petunia never married Vernon Dursley but instead became a private investigator – who’s then called back to Hogwarts to unravel a murder, with Lily as one of the professors on tenure. Except better, because the character work in this book is freaking top notch. Just go read it OK, this is the gay and messy magical school we all deserve.
- The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ★★★★☆
Billed as The Raven Cycle meets Stranger Things, this is one of those rare instances where the book matches the comp perfectly. While I found the pacing to be slow, I thought it suited this character-driven story. It’s all about families and legacies and finding your own paths despite the weight of all that history. I adored all of the characters, especially Harper – my sworld-wielding warrior queen. I cannot wait to see the sequel and watching how entangled relationships will develop.
- Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan ★★☆☆☆
I love the idea of hate-to-love, especially with a villain love-interest, so that’s what initially drew me to this book. When I learned that the heroine could converse with the gods, I got even more excited. Alas, it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I saw shadows of a fanfic-worthy broody bad boy in every scene with Malachiasz. I can understand insta-attraction, what I can’t understand is how poorly the character and relationship development was done. The stars are wholly reserved for Serefin, my drunken drama-queen and the only part of this novel I enjoyed.
- We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal ★★★☆☆
I expected this to be a five star read, so while it was good, I am disappointed I didn’t love it more. The prose were gorgeous and I am definitely checking out whatever Hafsah Faizal writes next. However, the writing style’s penchant for beautiful metaphors sometimes felt jarring with the pacing of the book. While I liked the characters indivdually, I didn’t feel compelled by any relationships aside from the one shared between Altair and Nasir in the beginning. I’m definitely in the minority with my lukewarm response to this title, though – there are tons of fans so don’t be put off by my review.
- Verity by Colleen Hoover ★☆☆☆☆
The sole star is for the fact that while the plot of this book was so improbable it veered into farcical, it was a page-turner. Toxic relationships is the bread-and-butter of crime, but there was something particularly tasteless about the way adultery and marriage was depicted in this book. Partly due to the casual nonchalance that CoHo tends to dismiss cheating, but also because even with my few remaining brain cells I could still figure out the plot was BS. The way disability was handled in this novel also left a lot to be desired, and the ‘twist’ at the end disappointed me so much I wanted to hurl this book into the sun. This was 7 hours of my good life wasted.
- The Bride Test ★★★★★
I cannot remain calm or objective about Helen’s books, I love them completely – because they’re unabashedly Vietnamese, because they’re proudly diasporic, because they’re filled with characters who feel so real I’m mildly miffed we’re not invited to their weddings. Khai and Esme slowly but surely stole my heart over a course of a long haul international flight. I laughed and cried and went through all of the emotions of first love. Along with its powerful emotional resonance, The Bride Test also offered sharp societal critique on the accessibility of the American Dream. These books are so special to me and I am so glad we have more Helen content to look forward to for years to come.
- Ruse ★★★★☆
This is the second and final instalment to Cindy Pon’s high-octane and prescient eco-dystopia – if you haven’t read Want, go visit your local bookshop right now and change this immediately. The bar is raised with Ruse, from the character development, the scope of the world, and the ever heightened stake. I loved seeing the gang again, even though Cindy did not pull any punches when it came to making my children suffer. It was such a satisfying and well-earned conclusion.
- Wilder Girls ★★★★☆
Whew, this book was harrowing and intense. It felt dangerous and unknowable, with the plot constantly shifting right under my feet – just as the physical world in the book warps and distorts everything from plants to landscape to school-girls. I read it in a rush over two days because I could not put it down. If you’re after a novel with ride-or-die friendship and sapphic romance, this is one to keep an eye out for.
- Red, White, and Royal Blue ★★★★★
I am completely bereft that Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry of Wales are not real people – for these two I would take up reading gossip magazines again. This book was rambunctious and as irrepressible as the passion that drives its main characters. The supporting cast are equally impressive, and I love the chemistry imbued into the various relationships in this novel. I can’t remember the last time I rooted so hard for fictional characters to overcome and triumph. Although we can’t have Claremont 2020, can we please please please get a Jude and Nora spin-off instead?
Looks like romance is my new favourite genre, judging by my latest two five star reads. Please give me all the recs, but no mayo toxic romance please. I feel like whenever I stray from the usual diet of speculative fiction, I become very picky in which books I read – which tends to mean that I end up loving the ones I do pick up.
What I’m Reading
I usually have numerous books on the go because I have no self-control. I have two going at the moment, but this number will undoubtedly multiply before I have the chance to publish this post.
- Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet – I am about 5 hours into the audiobook and I am already completely charmed by this world and its characters! The rogue-archetype has always been one of my favourite fantasy trope, and to make it even better Santia comes with a snarky talking key. The world building is a marvel, especially the magic system and how it is manipulated by the characters and governing bodies within the novel. I also heard there is a budding sapphic romance in this one – I think I just met the love interest and I already love her as well. Very excited to continue on!
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – I am three chapters into this novel and it’s already taken my very soul apart. Written by a Vietnamese-American son for his illiterate mother, it’s part-meditation and part-confessional on PTSD, inherited trauma, and how a you learn to communicate with a mother-tongue you can barely speak. I am ready for it completely wreck me.
I forgot that I am technically still reading The Priory of the Orange Tree but I am so exhausted with this brick at this point in time, I’m not sure I will ever finish it. The world building (West and East dragon mythology), and the characters (sapphic Queens and her bodyguard) had so much potential – but I kept feeling like an emotional weight was missing.
What I’m Planning to Read
I am an expert is making up TBR and then not sticking to them. So to save myself the embarrassment here’s two I am definitely reading this month, the rest is c’est la vie.
- Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
I know y’all keep saying that Enchantment of Ravens is lame because it has no plot but I loved Rook and Isobel with all my heart OK. I know nothing about this one except that it has a librarian babe (maybe?). Therefore, I am very excited.
- Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
This is part of the Caffeine Book Tours that Shealea organised (thank you!!). This is one of my most anticipated read of this year because fashion and East Asian fantasy? Relevant to my interest. I think we can all agree that this is the best cover of 2019. I want this illustrator to draw my life.
What are you reading and what are you all up to? I miss you!! Hope you’re going to have an amazing month and Happy Pride everyone!!